Many people on a ketogenic diet report sleeping much deeper, says Pamela Ellgen, a personal trainer and author of Sheet Pan Ketogenic. However, during the adjustment period (the first three to five days after you start keto), you may experience insomnia or difficulty staying asleep. This will end once your body adjusts to ketosis and burning stored fat. Then, you may find you’re able to sleep longer, sleep deeper, and feel more relaxed and rested when you wake up. Here are 15 things you need to know before starting the keto diet.
Dr. Campos, it is unfortunate that you retain the medical community’s negative stance on the ketogenic diet, probably picked up in medical school when you studied ketoacidosis, in the midst of an obesity and type II diabetes epidemic that is growing every year, especially among populations who will never see the Harvard Health Letter. The medical community has failed in reversing this trend, especially among children, and the public is picking up the tab, in the form of higher health insurance premiums to treat chronic metabolic diseases which doctors cannot cure. The ketogenic diet does not bid its adherents to eat unhealthy processed meats, and the green leafy vegetables that it emphasizes are important in a number of nutritional deficiencies. People lose weight on the ketogenic diet, they lose their craving for sugar, they feel more satiety, they may become less depressed, their insulin receptors sensitivity is improved, and these are all the good outcomes you fail to mention. There is a growing body of research which demonstrates the neuroprotective effects of the ketogenic diet to slow cancer progression, as well as diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, for which there are no effective medical treatments. Please respect your patients by providing them with evidence-based medical outcomes, not opinions.
Anecdotally speaking, people do lose weight on the keto diet. Heather Wharton, a 35-year-old business relationship manager from Tampa, Florida, lost 140 pounds since starting the keto diet in January 2016: “I plan on being on the keto diet for the rest of my life,” says Wharton. “My husband and I consider ourselves to be food addicts, and the keto diet is what we use as a form of abstinence from trigger foods that have sugar and other carbohydrates." A typical day of eating for Wharton includes coffee with a protein supplement, a cup of unsweetened cashew milk, cauliflower rice with ground turkey and liquid aminos (a carb-free substitute for soy sauce), spinach, six slices of turkey bacon, six eggs, and a little salsa.
There are people who say that keto helps your athletic performance, and those who say it hurts it. "The literature is mixed on how an ultra low-carbohydrate diet like the keto diet affects athletic performance," says Grant Cox, C.S.C.S., head coach at Iron Tribe Fitness. But one thing is pretty clear: "A lot of it points to consistent decreases when athletes are looking for maximal power output (in weightlifting, vertical jumps, sprinting, etc.). Along the same lines, you'd be hard-pressed to put on weight and strength on such a low carbohydrate diet," he says.
Adherence to a keto diet food list isn’t always great, though. A review published in January 2015 in the Journal of Clinical Neurology found that only 45 percent of participants were able to follow the approach as prescribed. “The poor compliance was attributed to side effects, social isolation, and cravings,” says Yawitz. And some people in the study “reported the diet simply wasn’t helping them lose weight,” she adds. Brissette agrees with this line of thinking. “In my opinion, the keto diet isn't sustainable and takes the joy and fun out of eating,” she says.
That’s why the Bulletproof Diet uses cyclical nutritional ketosis, and why on days when I eat carbohydrates, I always have Brain Octane Oil so my cells have a steady supply of ketones. This builds metabolic flexibility: you can eat fat and carbs and your body will use them both, which is the goal. You want to be resilient and full of energy no matter what, and that means you want cells strong enough to burn whatever you give them.

It’s important we distinguish between the process of ketoacidosis seen in type 1 diabetes and this ketosis that so many people on the keto diet are striving for. If someone with diabetes lacks enough insulin and/or does not eat enough carbohydrates, they risk entering a state known as ketoacidosis. For those with uncontrolled diabetes, this can increase the levels of ketones in the blood, increasing the acidity of the blood, and potentially leading to a coma or even death. In ketosis for a healthy individual, the level of ketones in the blood never reaches these crazy high levels so it’s generally safe for the average healthy individual.


"Most people who wind up trying a ketogenic diet and then deciding not to continue do so because of the emotional and lifestyle consequences," Turoff says. To put it simply, people miss eating carbohydrates. "That doesn't mean that you should be eating pizza or cupcakes every day, but what about having a sweet potato with a meal, or beans in a chili? Or fresh watermelon in the summer?" Turoff asks. "Whether or not we want to admit it, food plays much more than just a physical role in our lives and having such restrictions on the types of foods you can and can't eat can really take a toll. It might be easy in the short-term to go for carb-free foods but at a certain point, the thought of not being able to eat your favorite foods again can become daunting."
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On a low-carb ketogenic diet, your largest dietary food source should be healthy fats. Make sure to choose fats from a variety of sources, including oil, butter, fish, nuts, and seeds. Your body needs the different nutrients each type supplies. No more low-fat or non-fat foods! Remember: Not all fat is bad. Healthy fats are non-hydrogenated, cold-pressed, and plant- or seed-based.
When the body's glycogen stores begin to get depleted, rates of beta-oxidation increase, resulting in the mobilization of free fatty acids from fat tissue. This is where the metabolic state of ketosis comes in. During beta-oxidation, ketone bodies are released from the liver—because they cannot be utilized by the liver—and travel to the brain to be used for fuel. The free fatty acids can then be turned into a usable energy substrate.
Statistical differences between body weight, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, level of fasting blood sugar, and urea and creatinine levels before and after the administration of the ketogenic diet were analyzed using a paired Student’s t test using the Stat-view version 4.02 (Abacus Concepts Inc, USA). Weight, BMI and all biochemical parameters are expressed as mean ± SEM.
Although studies have shown that the keto diet can reduce seizures for children with epilepsy, there is no evidence indicating that keto helps with other brain disorders or improves mental cognition, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Some studies show that keto may lower blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes, but there is not enough long-term research to determine whether it’s safe and effective for diabetics.
I told the nurse that I would not take the medications, and I would manage it with diet. She looked at me skeptically, and said “I would not recommend that.”. They had me scheduled for a follow up in a month and a half, so I told her that I would do my own thing for that time, and if my numbers did not improve, we could discuss the medication further.

Constipation is the rule–as virtual elimination of dietary carbohydrates also means virtual elimination of prebiotic fibers that nourish bowel flora. Over time, this leads to metabolic distortions including a drop in HDL cholesterol, rise in triglycerides, rise in small LDL particles that lead to heart disease, rise in insulin resistance and blood sugar, rise in blood pressure, even if these parameters initially improved on the diet. This is also due to dysbiosis and lack of prebiotic fibers. While this has not yet been tracked in children, in adults we can expect that these distortions in bowel flora will, over time, also lead to heightened inflammation (bowel and elsewhere), diverticular disease (.e.g., diverticulitis), and colorectal cancer. Yes: prolonged ketosis can add substantially to risk for colon cancer. Other peculiar gastrointestinal complications of prolonged ketosis have also been observed, such as protein-losing enteropathies.


Fresh fruits supply only a small fraction of the fructose Americans consume (the biggest source is sugary beverages). Sugar in fruit is accompanied by healthful nutrients and antioxidants, as well as fiber, which slows absorption of fructose so it’s highly unlikely that the fructose in even very sweet fruit could have any undesirable health effects.
In the study, the researchers fed mice a ketogenic diet for several days and expected to find a favorable outcome — perhaps weight loss or another indication of improved health. Instead, they found that the liver began resisting insulin almost immediately and the mice were unable to regulate their blood sugar levels after only three days on the diet. (Insulin resistance, meaning that cells in the body don't respond to insulin, is a key characteristic of type 2 diabetes.)
It sounds damning, but before you stop eating beef and lamb, check out the details. The non-red meat diet differed from the red meat diet in many ways. The non-red meat dieters weren’t just avoiding red meat; they also ate way more fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese, and soy than the meat eaters. The researchers failed to control all other aspects of the diet, instead focusing only on the meat.
“Some patients may need to supplement with sodium, as long as they do not have blood pressure issues. Some may even need prescription potassium supplementation,” Rahnama said, adding that she begins all keto diet patients on a magnesium supplement, as it’s an electrolyte that can be taken with low risk of overdose. She also said keto dieters may have to up their carb intake if they have continued issues with hydration.
My biggest beef with this diet is that it focuses on how much and what you can eat and less about the quality of the food you eat. A recent 2018 study found that people who focused on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods and less on counting calories and limiting food groups, lost a significant amount of weight over the course of a year. This continues to echo the notion that the key to successful weight loss is diet QUALITY and not QUANTITY. And now, there’s research that actually supports that!

For children, fill up an adult-sized water cup with each meal and request they finish it before they leave the table. Usually they will be thirsty and this is not an issue. If you are concerned that they are not drinking enough, stevia flavor enhancers can encourage this, carb-free.  Ice chips are popular in my house as well, and an additional way to get liquids into children.  Don’t force or encourage excessive water consumption, but rather give children the down-time to drink to thirst rather than rushing back to play, ignoring their thirst.
As was described in a recent Diet Doctor post on using ketones for Alzheimer’s Disease, it has long been known that the brain can use two fuels for its energy needs: 1) glucose or 2) ketones. Glucose is the product of the breakdown of carbohydrates that we eat or is made via our liver by a process called gluconeogenesis (literally “new glucose making.”) Ketones are the product of the breakdown of fat to fatty acids, either from fat in our diet or fat stored in our adipose tissue.
Earlier this year Seattle family doctor Dr. Ted Naiman, who has been helping patients with low-carb or ketogenic diets for 20 years, described how his own obsessive compulsive disorder was resolved almost instantly — never returning — on a low-carb high-fat diet. Naiman over the years has seen dramatic mental health improvements in his patients who adopt low carb ketogenic diet. “Definitely bipolar, depression, anxiety, OCD, are all much, much better on a low-carb diet,” he says.

In a study of 51 obese people using an extremely low fat low calorie diet (just one gram of fat a day!) the gallbladder was examined by ultrasound before the diet and after one and two months. After one month four of the 51 participants had developed new gallstones. After two months more than one in four (13 people) had new gallstones! This on an almost fat free diet. Three participants needed to have their gallbladder removed during the study.
Based on what we know from the available research, is the keto diet safe? The evidence is clear that the KD can reliably help to treat obesity and improve insulin resistance, but the long-term impact of the KD on cardiovascular risk factors, liver disease and glucose tolerance is more controversial. Experts agree that genetics seem to play a role in how different people respond to the KD, meaning some may be more likely to thrive on very low-carb diets, while others are more susceptible to developing side effects.
The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that a keto diet can help treat high blood pressure, may result in less acne, may help control migraine, might help with certain mental health issues and could have a few other potential benefits?
MCTs are natural sources of essential healthy fats for energy. They are easily digestible and absorbed by the body, providing instant but lasting energy. Including MCT oil in the keto diet can stabilize blood sugar levels and enhance the production of ketones. Since that is the goal of your keto diet, optimal blood ketone levels, MCT Oil is a no-brainer.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet (LCKD) in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes over 16 weeks. Specifically, we wanted to learn the diet's effects on glycemia and diabetes medication use in outpatients who prepared (or bought) their own meals. In a previous article, we reported the results observed in 7 individuals [10]; this report includes data from those 7 individuals along with data from additional participants enrolled subsequently.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 is by far more common, accounting for 90 percent of all diabetes cases worldwide. In this type, the body does not make or does not use insulin well. It can happen to anyone but is more common in people over the age of 40, those who are overweight and inactive, those with a family history of diabetes and patients whose diets consist mainly of refined carbohydrates.

Here’s another controversial yet promising area of study: Research suggests that when patients with diabetes take on a low-carb diet (like keto), they experience improvements in insulin sensitivity by up to 75 percent, as well as a reduction in blood sugar control medications. What we aren’t sure of, however, is whether these improvements are due specifically to the effects of ketosis or to weight loss in general, so similar results could theoretically be found with any successful diet.


2. Raygan, F., Bahmani, F., Kouchaki, E., Aghadavod, E., Sharifi, S., Akbari, E., . . . Asemi, Z. (2016). Comparative effects of carbohydrate versus fat restriction on metabolic profiles, biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in overweight patients with Type 2 diabetic and coronary heart disease: A randomized clinical trial. PMID: 28607566
Ben Tzeel is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), holding a Masters in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Ben has lived with Type 1 Diabetes since 1999 and has never allowed it to hold him back from achieving his goals. He is a published fitness model and author who writes about exercise, nutrition, and diabetes.
WY conceived, designed, and coordinated the study; participated in data collection; performed statistical analysis; and drafted the manuscript. MF assisted with study design, performed data collection, and helped to draft the manuscript. AC analyzed the food records. MV assisted with study/intervention design and safety monitoring. EW participated in the conception and design of the study, and assisted with the statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Having said that, there are also studies suggesting that long term carbohydrate restriction diets (aka. the keto diet) may result in fast short term weight loss but people gain it all back in the long term. An RCT put 63 individuals on a low-fat diet or a low carb diet, and the study found the low carb dieters lost more weight compared to the low fat group by month 3 and 6, but that the weight loss evened out by month 12. This was confirmed by a Meta-analysis which found that while low-carbers lost more weight than low-fat dieters but the differences disappeared by the one year mark.
Chelsea is the site editor and nutritionist for Ultimate Paleo Guide and Paleo Meal Plans. In 2016, Chelsea graduated from the National University of Natural Medicine with a Master’s degree in Nutrition. When she’s not working for Ultimate Paleo Guide or coaching CrossFit, Chelsea enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, and eating. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @chelsbrinegar and LinkedIn.
Yancy has seen similar results in his practice. “Carbohydrate intake is the main driver of blood sugar. So if you’re able to lower blood sugar by reducing carbohydrate intake, then you may be able to reduce diabetes medication,” he says. “We’ve seen people come off of hundreds of units of insulin just by changing the way they eat, and that can happen really quickly, in just a few weeks.”

You say keto is a highly controversial topic. For those of us following a keto diet, there is no controversy whatsoever because the diet proves itself efficacious very quickly. I think the real controversy comes in because the ADA has been recommending dangerous levels of carbs for decades now, and they would lose face if they had to change their recommendation and admit they’ve been wrong for so long. You say there are not many studies on the keto diet, and I disagree with you. You’ll find the evidence if you look for it. Eric Westman, Steve Phinney, Jeff Volek and many other researchers have written volumes about this.
Several comprehensive studies and meta-analyses have demonstrated that after a few months or even a year of a low carb diet versus a moderate/high carb diet, there are no significant differences in the amount of weight lost (2,3,4,5).  I will say, however, most of these diets are NOT keto and are simply lower carb (i.e. 20%).  Also, long-term effects (beyond 1 year) are not often studied due to budgetary constraints, so interpret results as you wish.
Carbohydrates: Historically, a targeted keto diet consists of limiting carbohydrate intake to just 20–30 net grams per day. “Net carbs” is the amount of carbs remaining once dietary fiber is taken into account. Because fiber is indigestible once eaten, most people don’t count grams of fiber toward their daily carb allotment. In other words, total carbs – grams of fiber = net carbs. That’s the carb counts that matter most.

Now, there’s even evidence that a low-carb, high-fat regimen (as the keto diet is) helps you live longer, compared to a low-fat diet. In a study by the medical journal The Lancet that studied more than 135,000 adults from 18 countries, high carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction or cardiovascular disease mortality.
Anecdotally speaking, people do lose weight on the keto diet. Heather Wharton, a 35-year-old business relationship manager from Tampa, Florida, lost 140 pounds since starting the keto diet in January 2016: “I plan on being on the keto diet for the rest of my life,” says Wharton. “My husband and I consider ourselves to be food addicts, and the keto diet is what we use as a form of abstinence from trigger foods that have sugar and other carbohydrates." A typical day of eating for Wharton includes coffee with a protein supplement, a cup of unsweetened cashew milk, cauliflower rice with ground turkey and liquid aminos (a carb-free substitute for soy sauce), spinach, six slices of turkey bacon, six eggs, and a little salsa.

“Keto is not a great long-term diet, as it is not a balanced diet,” says Nancy Rahnama, MD, MS, an internal medicine and bariatric specialist in Los Angeles. “A diet that is devoid of fruit and vegetables will result in long-term micronutrient deficiencies that can have other consequences. The keto diet can be used for short-term fat loss, as long as it is under medical supervision.”

Keto decreases inflammation and improves brain function — so much so that Alzheimer’s patients who switch to a keto diet actually begin to recover their brain function, which up until now was unheard of.[20][21][22][23][24] So there’s that. (Dale Bredesen and Mark Hyman have discussed these on the Bulletproof Radio podcast. Check out Dale’s episode here, and Mark’s here.)  
Keto dieters often commiserate about experiencing symptoms as their bodies adjust to the diet, but experts say this period of transition is no joke. "When your body first enters ketosis, you may experience a series of side effects termed the 'keto flu,'" says Jennifer M. Brown, R.D., a faculty associate at Arizona State University's School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. "These include fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, poor sleep, difficulty with exercise, and constipation, all resulting from extreme restriction of carbohydrates." While these symptoms usually subside after the body adjusts to relying on fat for fuel, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Is losing weight really worth potentially feeling ill for three weeks?! "Given that low-carb diets have not been shown to have an advantage when it comes to weight loss, I would say these side effects aren't worth it and are unnecessary," Brown says. (Related: Is It Possible to Follow a Vegetarian Keto Diet?)

Adequate food records were available for analysis in a proportion of participants at each of the 4 timepoints (Table ​(Table2).2). Participants completed food records at a mean of 2.5 and a median of 3 timepoints. In general, comparing baseline to subsequent timepoints, mean carbohydrate intake decreased substantially and energy intake decreased moderately while protein and fat intake remained fairly constant.
The average person's diet contain about 55% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 15% protein. On the keto diet, you eat a whole lot more fat, and a lot less carbs: 80% of the diet is comprised of fat, 15% is protein, and a mere 5% of calories come from carbohydrates. For someone on a 1,500-calorie diet, that translates to 19 grams of carbohydrates per day, which is less than what you find in one medium-sized apple.
If a person does not like his or her body, he or she will not be able to have the same amount of confidence as someone who loves their body. It is very important to be confident for a person to do well in his life. Without confidence, no one really takes you seriously and you are unable to impress anyone or show your talents to the world. To make this happen, this formula increases confidence in the user so that they can be more inspired from their own bodies rather than others.
Participants returned every other week for 16 weeks for further diet counseling and medication adjustment. When a participant neared half the weight loss goal or experienced cravings, he or she was advised to increase carbohydrate intake by approximately 5 g per day each week as long as weight loss continued. Participants could choose 5 g carbohydrate portions from one of the following foods each week: salad vegetables, low-carbohydrate vegetables, hard or soft cheese, nuts, or low-carbohydrate snacks. Diabetes medication adjustment was based on twice daily glucometer readings and hypoglycemic episodes, while diuretic and other anti-hypertensive medication adjustments were based on orthostatic symptoms, blood pressure, and lower extremity edema.

It should be noted that the concept that fat can be eaten ad libitum and still induce weight loss in obese subjects is not a recent one (13–33). Ketosis occurs as a result of the change in the body’s fuel from carbohydrate to fat. Incomplete oxidation of fatty acids by the liver results in the accumulation of ketone bodies in the body. A ketogenic diet maintains the body in a state of ketosis, which is characterized by an elevation of D-b-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate.
In this study, researchers compared the impact of a low-carbohydrate diet and three other diets on blood pressure and other measures of cardiovascular fitness in women. After the 12 month trial, all subjects who successfully completed their respective diet experienced notable reductions in body mass, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol. Those in the low-carbohydrate diet group, however, had the best results.
Thank you Dr Jockers! I recently came across your website and i absolutely love what you do. I am an advanced practice nurse and just started a part time keto coaching practice.I am already amazed by the changes i see in my clients. Do you have by chance a training program for keto coaches. If not, is there one out there that you recommend? Thank you in advance.
Your liver oxidizes fatty acids to produce three ketone bodies — β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone — that provide an alternative to glucose to fuel your brain and other tissues. And most organs, including your brain, thrive on ketones. Increased ketone levels replace glucose as your primary energy source, reducing need for gluconeogenesis and sparing protein breakdown. (4)
Differences between ketosis and ketoacidosis Ketosis and ketoacidosis both involve increased levels of ketones in the body. However, they are not the same thing. Nutritional ketosis is the aim of the ketogenic diet, and it is generally safe, whereas ketoacidosis is a complication of type 1 diabetes that can be life-threatening. Learn more here. Read now
Twenty-one of the 28 participants who were enrolled completed the study. Twenty participants were men; 13 were White, 8 were African-American. The mean [± SD] age was 56.0 ± 7.9 years and BMI was 42.2 ± 5.8 kg/m2. Hemoglobin A1c decreased by 16% from 7.5 ± 1.4% to 6.3 ± 1.0% (p < 0.001) from baseline to week 16. Diabetes medications were discontinued in 7 participants, reduced in 10 participants, and unchanged in 4 participants. The mean body weight decreased by 6.6% from 131.4 ± 18.3 kg to 122.7 ± 18.9 kg (p < 0.001). In linear regression analyses, weight change at 16 weeks did not predict change in hemoglobin A1c. Fasting serum triglyceride decreased 42% from 2.69 ± 2.87 mmol/L to 1.57 ± 1.38 mmol/L (p = 0.001) while other serum lipid measurements did not change significantly.
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